Netanyahu cabinet meeting 390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was due to make a decision Thursday night
after press time on whether he will run for the chairmanship of the Likud
convention and when the race will take place.
The prime minister
announced last month that he would run for the post in order to prevent the
convention from giving the Likud central committee the right to decide the
party’s next Knesset slate. But there were signs Thursday that he might decide
to back out of the contest and ask a minister loyal to him to run instead. He
reportedly already asked Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who turned him
Netanyahu’s associates leaked earlier this week that already on
March 12 there would be races for the chairmanship of the convention, the
central committee, the ideological bureau and the secretariat, which controls
the party’s finances.
The news that the races could be held so fast upset
multiple potential candidates who expected that they would have months to
prepare before the contests would take place.
Minister Michael Eitan, who wants to run against Netanyahu for the convention
chairmanship, asked the Likud’s internal court for a restraining order
preventing the party’s election committee from setting a date for the
“The election committee has no authority and is violating the Likud
constitution,” Eitan wrote in his appeal. “This is not an unimportant, technical
issue. It is an ugly attempt to prevent the Likud central committee from having
MK Danny Danon, who also wants to challenge Netanyahu, said he
wants the election held as soon as possible because he believes he is strong in
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan told Netanyahu
on Wednesday that he would be very upset if the races are held so
Erdan intends to challenge Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz for
the secretariat chairmanship, a job Katz has held for a decade.
complained about a lack of transparency in the party’s finances during Katz’s
tenure as head of the secretariat.
MK Miri Regev also intends to run for
Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon will be
challenged for re-election as central committee chairman by Ashkelon Likud
activist Eli Cornfeld.
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin said he was under
pressure from party activists to run against Kahlon.
bureau, which is headed by former health minister Dan Naveh, has not convened
since Naveh quit politics six years ago.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli
Edelstein, MK Tzipi Hotovely and possibly Deputy Negev and Galilee Development
Minister Ayoub Kara will run for the post.
Likud activist Moshe Feiglin
held a rally in Rishon Lezion Wednesday night to celebrate his performance in
the January 31 Likud leadership race against Netanyahu. Feiglin and his
supporters declared victory at the event, even though according to official
Likud numbers that he is disputing, he won 23.21 percent of the vote, down from
23.4% in the last Likud election in 2007.
Despite calls by Netanyahu in
the past to boycott Feiglin, the event was attended by Katz, Erdan, Kara, Elkin,
Danon, Hotovely and Regev – all of whom are considering running for posts in the
Likud and require Feiglin’s support.